The Top 10 Best AdWords Features You're Not Using


The AdWords universe is forever expanding. Sure, some things get changed, demoted or taken away (like Pluto losing its planet status). But new PPC features are always being created, the latest being image extensions for search ads.

It’s therefore imperative for PPC professionals to stay on beat with the latest and greatest as their competitors will surely be the ones to try out anything new.

But what about forgotten and hidden Google AdWords features that you’ve never thought of?

Here’s an extensive look into the top 10 most underutilized AdWords features and how you can use them to your advantage.

1. Above-The-Fold CPM Bidding on the Display Network

Many studies have been produced regarding above- and below-the-fold ad placement, and it’s widely accepted that above-the-fold ad placement allows the best chance for clicks.

Above the Fold CPM Bidding

With all the different devices, screen sizes and resolutions, it’s never safe to bet that your ad will always show above the fold.

If you’re running a cost-per-thousand-impression (CPM) bidding campaign, then your goal might be branding, instead of direct response. So “eyeballs” is your key metric to track.

Why pay for impressions when no one will see your ad?

[MORE: See Our Facebook vs. Google Infographic]

Here’s how you do it:

While you’re at it, you can exclude other categories that meet your criteria. You do this by selecting your display network campaign, clicking on the display network tab, and then scrolling down to the bottom where you’ll find “exclusions.”

Then go ahead and click on “Categories” and then “Add exclusions” to the right.

AdWords Exclusions

2. Image Ad Creator

Have you ever used this thing? It’s incredible what it can create, and even if you’re not too hot on what it comes up with, you can use the idea to get some inspiration.

The image ad creator surely beats creating .swf files with Adobe Flash if you’ve never touched the program before.

And while it’s not the display ad builder, the image ad creator allows you to create rich media ads in different pixel dimensions in seconds.

You give it the headline, description, and a call-to-action and it’ll create several ad examples that you can use with the click of a button.

Here’s how you do it:

Click on the green “+ New ad” button within any display network ad group you have. Then click on “Image ad” and you’re ready to rock!

AdWords Image Ad Creator

Here’s what it came up with for our company,

Google Image Ads

3. +Broad +Match +Modifier

Regular broad match can be a killer for AdWords accounts. It’s no wonder that so many people that try AdWords for the first time see their budgets being depleted before they even blink.

Don’t get me wrong, regular broad match for keywords can be a good idea once you’ve maxed out all the other match types. But the flower shop owner who is just starting to understand AdWords selecting the keyword flower shop, believes that her ad will show for flower shop, and not flower girl dresses.

Broad match modifier allows you to add a “+” sign to words in your keyword that must be present when a searcher types in a query. Otherwise you won’t allow your ad to show.

Why is this different and sometimes better than regular broad match?

Because it allows you to be in control and not Google. Giving Google the option to show your ads for synonyms or unrelated terms can obviously be a bad idea (and a costly one).

Here’s a breakdown on how all the match types work:

Keyword Match Types Explanation

The green check mark shows what search terms will show based off the ‘werewolf novels’ keyword and the match type you select.

4. AdWords Scripts

This might be a bit too techy for most people, but don’t let that scare you. AdWords scripts are usually used for reporting, account alerts, and bulk changes. But they can also be used to help automate your PPC tasks.

One of the more interesting uses I’ve learned over the past few months is tracking account, campaign, and ad group quality score (QS). As of right now, you can only see quality scores at the keyword level within the AdWords interface. With scripts, you can create a daily, weekly, or monthly report that tells you the overall account QS. Find the how-to here.

You can then use this benchmark to determine whether the changes you’re making are improving your account QS or not.

Are you getting healthier, or are you still struggling with that spare tire around your waist?

Other interesting ideas for scripts can be found here, here, and here.

Aaaanndd, if you want someone to create custom scripts for you, try out Optmyzr.

5. Auction Insights

Want to know who is bidding on your keyword, and how much better/worse they’re doing than you?

Check out the auction insights feature located within the keywords tab. Select one keyword (or multiple) by checking the check box next to it, then “Details” and “Auction insights” in the drop down.

Auction Insights

Here’s the data overview you’ll get: A breakdown of your ad in relation to your competitors for the keyword(s) you’ve selected.

Auction Insights Data

Pay close attention to all the metrics, as they’re clear indicators on how you’re doing.

6. Search Terms Report

This is a report that should almost be used on a daily basis, and if not that, weekly.

The search term report allows you to see what people have actually typed in to make your search ad appear.

You can use this data to add new keywords that you’d like to bid on, or new negatives that you’d like to exclude from your campaigns.

You find the search term report right where you found the auction insights report, in the “Details” tab within the keyword view.

You can then select “Selected” (if you have checked off one or more keywords) or “All” to see the search term report for all the keywords in your immediate view.

Search Term Report

7. Keyword Diagnosis

Are your keywords pulling from the correct search terms, or are other keywords in your account competing with others?

Using the “Keyword diagnosis” tool allows you to do a quick health check on your keywords, and the tool will tell you if your keywords are showing, and why they aren’t.

Use this tool to eliminate internal competition between keywords and make sure the correct search ads are showing for the correct search terms.

You’ll find this feature within the same drop down as the auction insights and search term report.

Keyword Diagnosis Tool

8. The Home Tab

I’ll be the first to admit that the Home tab is something I often overlook.

It’s found in the green horizontal navigation bar that runs across the top of your AdWords interface.

Google AdWords Home Tab

Within the Home tab you’ll find interesting insights like:

  • Alerts and announcements (missed clicks due to budget, for example)
  • Keywords below first page bid
  • Good quality, but low traffic keywords
  • All disabled keywords, ad groups, and campaigns
  • Suggestions for increasing traffic by adding new keywords

You can make it your starting page instead of the Campaigns tab by scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page and selecting the check box on the left.

Watch for Google to continually add new modules that can be toggled on/off.

9. AdWords Editor

Do you have tons of keywords and ads that need optimizations, but not enough time during the day?

Google AdWords Editor might not exactly be a feature within AdWords, but it’s a tool that I constantly find underutilized when it comes to making bulk changes to accounts. Some advertisers just don’t know it exists!

The AdWords Editor allows you to make offline changes to your account, which can then be uploaded at a later time.

Some neat features include the search function and filtering, advanced bid changes (like percentage increases/decreases), and the sharing of changes with other people working on the account (by adding comments).

And with a little messing around, you could become an editor genius within one day.

You can download the editor directly from Google here.

10. Time Lag Reporting

Are you selling expensive items or services? Do you know the buying cycle of your clients and customers?

The search funnel report will tell you exactly how long it takes the average visitor to convert on your site.

If a buyer takes 7 days to complete a purchase instead of one day, then that might be a good indicator that you should start remarketing (if you’re not already).

The time lag report is only available if you’re tracking conversions. Here’s how you find it:

Go to the “Tools and Analysis” tab and then click on “Conversions.” After that, select “Search Funnels” in the bottom left-hand corner.

Google Search Funnels

After that, you’ll be shown some options on the left where you can select “Time Lag.”

One interesting thing you might find is that perhaps the majority of your conversions happen within the first 24 hours from a visitor’s first impression of your ad.

But you’ll see in this screenshot below that over 7% of conversions happen after 12 days from the first impression.

AdWords Time Lag Report

That’s a great indicator that your visitors are shopping around and taking their time to pull the trigger.

In this particular scenario, you can definitely benefit from using remarketing to stay “top-of-mind” as they continue to browse.

Do you have any other underutilized AdWords features? Share in the comments!

Johnathan Dane is the founder and leading captain of, a creative digital agency specializing in pay-per-click marketing with search and display networks. When he's not working hard on increasing client success, you can find him playing pick-up basketball at the local gym with the elders.



Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

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Bhupendra Chahar
Jun 12, 2013

I enjoyed your article. Those very sincere and almost interchangeable corporate statements are both so saccharin.

Jun 13, 2013

Thank you Bhupendra :) although I prefer real sugar over artificial sweeteners.

Frederick Vallaeys
Jun 12, 2013

Thanks for mentioning Optmyzr as a great place to get custom scripts! We just launched some of our favorite scripts as part of our service. Check out what scripts we have ready for immediate download at and tune in to Twitter @Optmyzr later today where we'll announce a code during our session at SMX Advanced to get any of our premium scripts free.

Khánh La
Jun 13, 2013

Useful information. Time lag report is the tool which I just known. Thank Larry.

Jun 27, 2015

Great blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring
writers? I'm planning to start my own website soon but I'm a little lost on everything.

Would you advise starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for a
paid option? There are so many options out there that I'm totally confused
.. Any recommendations? Thank you!

Steve Baxter
Jun 13, 2013

I like these articles - and I like being able to see who wrote them - but is there any way that, when you go for the Print-Friendly version, the author's photo could be scaled down from a full-page photo?

Jun 13, 2013

Thanks Steve, but that's the best part of the whole article! I've forwarded your inquiry :)

Randall Magwood
Jun 15, 2013

Wasn't aware of the image ad creator. Seems like a great way to get your ad approved without having to do alot of cropping or editing on your own. Thanks for mentioning this feature. I'm about to create my ad now.

TJ Loftus
Jun 18, 2013

Great info here. And #6 the search terms report is not only a gem for continuous optimization as you point out should be used at least weekly if not daily it can also help with PPC audits. It's one of the first things I check when reviewing a potential account to point out how much money they could be wasting if the account was set up all with all broad match keywords.

Barbara Fowler
Jun 21, 2013

Great post. I always learn so many things from your blog. 

Jun 22, 2013

Thank you Barbara. Get excited for the next one :)

eMail Tips Daily newsletter
Jun 21, 2013

Tip #3 looks like a winner to me - I was always afraid Google might show the ADs to improperly matched synonims and other LSI.Thanks for sharing!Cheers,Steve ✉ Master eMailSmith ✉ Lorenzo

Jun 22, 2013

Broad match can be useful in some cases (like when you've maxed out your traffic with the other match types). But be careful! Keep a close eye on your search term reports, which is #6 in the article.

Jun 22, 2013

Broad match can be useful in some cases (like when you've maxed out your traffic with the other match types). But be careful! Keep a close eye on your search term reports, which is #6 in the article.

Jun 22, 2013

Really helping article..

Shirley Bongbong
Jun 22, 2013

hey, this article is great. Maybe you should teach the next basics of Adwords including using a keyword research tool and tips.

Jul 15, 2013

And the most important which most people forget to use it "Keyword Tool".. Studpid they are!

Jul 29, 2013

Interesting pointsmy takeaway was above the fold placements.what if i get conversions for below the fold?i also liked the match type images which cleary is 1000 times better than a paragraph trying to explain things.thanks

James Smith
Oct 24, 2013

I like these content - and I like being able to see who had written them - but is there any way that, when you go for the Print-Friendly edition, the writer's picture could be scaly down from a full-page photo?  

Sep 22, 2014

Hi,thanks for the article. Im interested to know if there is a tool that you can see all the searches people make that your ad is NOT clicked on, since this may be very useful to filter out even more negative keywords.I know the tool exists where you can see searches people have clicked on as described in this article, but how about those impressions that are not clicked on?  

Daniel Kydd
Oct 01, 2014

That was a really great article. I hadn't seen Auction insights, search terms report or keyword diagnosis before. Thanks very much!

Obat Benjolan Di Leher Tradisional
Dec 08, 2014

Good post ! I enjoy reading . Thank you very much already sharing with us. this information is very nice and very helpful, Greeting know and hopefully always success

Morten Storgaard
Dec 16, 2015

Very good stuff, good to get reminded about the banner builder - it has improved a lot! Thanks :)

Minh Hoang
May 04, 2017

Great article, Johnathan! I especially love the Auction Insights, often used it to get my clients more involved and persuade them to increase their budgets. What do you think about the recent AdWords' features? Would love to hear more about Demographic Targeting. Maybe also Targeting by income level/airport, which I have written in my blog that it should be used much more:

Anthony Taylor
Jan 24, 2018

Thank you very much for sharing this article. I just love these hidden features, I don't have idea about it. Can you post a video about Image Ad Creator?

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